RARE Daily

Feinstein Institutes Secures $6.1 Million NIH Grant for Red Cell Disorder Research

April 4, 2024

Rare Daily Staff

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $6.1 million research grant to the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research to further an understanding of red cell disorders and potential treatments for them.

Red cell disorders, such as Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) and sickle cell disease (SCD), affect more than 1 billion people worldwide and are a significant cause of chronic illness and mortality.

Led by Lionel Blanc, professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes, the seven-year initiative aims to build off previous research and will shed light on DBA, SCD and anemia. Specifically, Blanc and his team will attempt to unravel the process and malfunction of erythropoiesis, or the production of red blood cells, in those disorders.

“Understanding red cell blood disorders, how they develop and progress, is essential given their global impact on millions,” said Blanc. “This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will help pave the way for innovative treatments and improve the quality of life for those affected.”

The grant will help fund studies of three research projects: ribosome and cell cycle length regulation in fetal vs. adult erythropoiesis; the erythromyeloblastic island associated with DBA and SCD; and identifying and testing novel drugs for these hematologic disorders.

“Dr. Blanc’s work in uncovering the fundamental molecular mechanisms of red blood cell disorders paves a path towards novel therapeutic approaches,” said Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. “His translational research forms the foundation for identifying innovative treatments for complex blood disorders.”

Blanc is a recognized leader in hematology research. In 2022, he published research in Blood showing that high mobility group box-1 protein (HMGB1) prevents the body’s ability to produce sufficient oxygen-rich red blood cells. In 2019, he received a $2.5 million grant from the NIH to study treatment for erythropoietic disorders, including DBA.

Photo: Lionel Blanc, professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes

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